A Tailing Tale
George Crofutt’s Observations of Gilpin County (1885)
Gilpin County, of which Central is the commercial center, is the oldest and perhaps the best developed mining portion of the state of Colorado. Its population is 7,000. The veins hereabouts are all true fissures, and there are many shafts down to the depths of 700 to 1,800 feet. The people are generally prosperous; some rich and the money has been made here. The froth, scum, and driftwood of civilization incidental to mining camps, have long since floated away to “new diggings,” leaving a substantial class of citizens, any one of whom will tell you, with the greatest confidence, “Gipin County is good enough for me!”
Humphreys Concentration works, at Black Hawk, with one exception is the only enterprise of the kind in the country. It has a capacity of 60 tons per day. The Hazeltine company in Russell has works of this character, which have a capacity of 30 tons per day.
There are 13 stamp mills now in operation in Gilpin County, aggregating 593 stamps. Other mills will be running in the spring and summer, which are now closed for lack of water.
The gold and silver taken from the mines in Gilpin county since 1871, have gradually increased from $1,389,289 in 1872 to $2,656,901 in 1884.
Central City is the terminus of the “C.C.” division of the Union Pacific railway, 39 miles west from Denver, seven miles north from Idaho Springs; one mile from Nevadaville or Bald Mountain as the post office department calls it. Fare from Denver $2.65; Idaho Springs, by stage $1.00; Rollinsville, 12 miles, $2.00; Nederland, 16 miles, $2.50; Caribou, 20 miles, $3.00. Buses from the depot, 50 cents.
The Gilpin county seat, Central City, at an altitude of 8,516 feet is 540 feet higher than Black Hawk. The city has a permanent population of 3,250, and like the people of Black Hawk, one mile distant, they are all connected with the mining industry, more or less.
The Register-Call, a daily and weekly newspaper, enlightens citizens on the news of the day, while the Teller and American hotels provide accommodations for the traveling public. Central has three banks, many quartz mills, numerous churches and schools, an opera house, and some fine private residences. The latter are scattered around about the hills, rocks, stumps, and prospect holes, in the most irregular order.
Bald Mountain, Gilpin County, formerly Nevadaville, is really a suburb of Central City, from which it is distant one mile west. Here are located a great number of mills and mines. Quartz Hill, on which the city is located, is one series of pit-falls, rocks and prospect holes, with 2,000 engaged in all kinds of work, connected with the mining interests, which alone occupy the attention of the citizens.
Rollinsville, Gilpin County, is on South Boulder River, 13 miles north from Central City, via Black Hawk; population, about 170; elevation 8,323 feet. It has a post office and hotel—Rollins House; one stamp mill and a concentrator. It is situated in a beautiful little valley, surrounded by mountain ranges in every direction. The Middle Park wagon road commences here and extends westward, via Boulder Pass, to the Middle park, and is said to be a good, easy grade. Distance to Hot Sulphur Springs, 40 miles, and Grand Lake, 35 miles.
Some railroad reports say the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Company is building a railroad up the South Boulder, past this place to the Middle park, with Utah for an objective point. We don’t know, no fellah can find out, but it is certain some company is at work.
Rollinsville is the headquarters of the Rollins Gold & Silver Mining Company, which has a great many patented mines in the vicinity, amounting to 26,000 lineal feet; also 1,100 acres of farming land under fence and patent; 1,000 acres timberland, and 400 acres of patented placer mining lands. The company through their superintendent, the veteran miner, J. Q. A. Rollins, Esq., one of Colorado’s early pioneers, has acquired all this vast property. The farming yields the company in hay, oats, wheat and vegetables, an average of about $8,000 a year.
The placer lands patented, as well as the whole valley and mountains, in this region, show the “color” in every pan of dirt, but the necessary water supply for washing, has heretofore been wanting to make these diggings profitable. To supply this want, the Rollins Company, after securing titles to the best lands, commenced building a canal and flume to take the water from the river and carry it along the side of the mountain where the necessary fall can be had to work the placers by hydraulic methods. The canal is nearly three miles in length, six feet deep, capable of furnishing sufficient water to run a number of Little Giant hydraulics for placer mining, with a pressure of 160 feet.
Published March 19, 2015 in the Weekly Register-Call.